Photographing water reflections at Disney’s CA Adventures

The Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel
Mickey’s Fun Wheel

I grew up in Orange County and was lucky enough to go to Disneyland once a year as a kid.  After high school, I also worked there seasonally for six summers.  Because of this, no matter how many changes they make to the parks, I fee like I know them well.  The last time we went to California Adventures, Mary and I spent most of our time photographing and not going on the rides.  Here is what you might see:


There are a lot of worthy subjects in the two parks.  We especially love main street and Cars Land after dark.  During the day though, the best subjects in either park are the water reflections in Paradise Bay.  There are a number of rides surrounding the “bay” so walk all the way around it one way, and then the other to get your bearings and different perspectives.

Silly Symphony Swings


If you have a DSLR, it will be better if you have a polarizer to take the glare out of the water.  Even if you do not, you can still get good photos.  Find a “shady” spot and look for the reflections.  Make sure that your autofocus is not locking on anything below the water, but on its surface.  Finally, we used burst or sport mode so we could capture the water movement.



We took both realistic and more abstract photos.  I am not sure if the reflections look all that interesting while you are just standing there staring at them.  However, when you stop them in a photo, they are very interesting.  We experimented with different shutter speeds to get different blurring effects.  Upon final review and editing, we both liked the more abstract ones better.

A car on Mickey's Fun Wheel
A car on Mickey’s Fun Wheel
Reflection of the California Screamin' Rollercoaster
Reflection of the California Screamin’ Rollercoaster


Since the images out of the camera looked like abstracts and already had some cartoonish color, we saturated them even more.  We liked the ones best that did not really look like anything, but shapes and colors.  Some were already vibrant and others a bit washed out.  We will definitely be doing this again.  So the next time you go to CA Adventures, don’t just go on the rides, but look at the reflections in the bay.  You will be pleasantly surprised.


To see all of our photos, please go to

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